Portland Day 2: Networking and International Women's Day

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I had originally planned on writing two separate posts for today: one for my second day in Portland and one for International Women's Day. But because the celebration of feminism is a lifestyle and not an annual festivity for me, I thought it more appropriate to combine them. Now, if you're thinking of closing this post because I just said the word "feminism," perhaps keep an open mind here for a minute and see what I have to say.

This was the day of the trip that I knew I would take few photos as I had planned to spend the majority of the late morning and early afternoon traveling to and attending a wedding networking event to not only meet local vendors that I could feel good about recommending to my destination: Portland clients, but to integrate myself into the wedding community learning more from seasoned professionals and start-ups alike. The meeting was fantastic and I'm excited about the vendors I met, a few of which I will be showing off later in the week. 

Unfortunately, the photo above is actually the only photo I took yesterday. Don't be fooled though, it was an incredible blueberry poppyseed muffin (so incredible that I actually went back for a second) and the Case Study cafe covered with work from other local photographers was a lovely place to spend the afternoon catching up on emails.  

I had a few interesting transit experiences too, namely that I spend a solid 20 minutes going back and forth across the street trying to decide which bus was going in the direction I wanted to go. I got there eventually, a few strange looks later. Once on and headed back towards Beaverton, I settled in for a long ride of almost 40 stops and spent almost the entire ride journaling about the direction I'd like this travel and destination portion of my business to go, only looking up to say hi to a cute dog. Except that I couldn't even pet the puppy as it was hard at work guiding its blind owner!

I got home around dark still needing to run. Normally, while I love quiet night runs I don't do them solo, but was happily able to enjoy a rainy evening run around the cozy neighborhood, even getting my lift in at the local gym. Oh how I would love to be able to walk to the gym whenever I wanted. 

Knowing I had to get up early for the next day (today's) engagement session, I skipped the blogging in favor of sleep thanks to my lovely fan noise app. I drifted off to the same thought that had been running through my mind all day; how many strong women shape my life on a daily basis. As a female photographer and business woman, I've had more instances than I can count where people discounted my skills and underestimated my knowledge simply because I'm a 23 year old female, but thanks not only to the wealth of strong women in my family but those in my professional circle, these detractors (usually men) have done nothing but spur me to accomplish more and more. 

I'm attempting not to get long winded about something I could talk about all day, so I'll leave it at these three things: 

1. I will forever be proud to be a feminist. To me, feminism is about celebrating the many facets of femininity (unbreakable strength, grace, empathy, physical empowerment, creativity, intellectual freedom) as much as it is about fighting for equal rights, bodily autonomy and fair treatment. 

2. That said, I think the movement still has a long way to go in the way of being inclusive of ALL women, i.e. those of color, the LGBTQIA community and, yes, even conservative women who may not necessarily agree with all parts of the "liberal agenda" but who are, regardless, still women. I don't mean this to preach, simply to acknowledge that I know I and we still have a ways to go. 

3. There are a few people who have so greatly shaped my existence as a strong woman that I need to thank them. 


My Mom: There is no one who has influenced me more than my mom, truly. I remember writing about my mom as one of my heroes for one of those cringe-worthy five paragraph essay prompts way back when but at the time didn't realize just how much she did. Not only did she work full time as a high school math teacher, but she did the daily housework and cooking, took my brother and I to our various activities, and all the while made sure we were existentially happy children. Talk about supermom. She's also taught me by example how to persevere through adversity, that if you believe in whatever you're doing - even if the chances of succeeding are bleak - that you only fail when you give up. Now that I've outgrown my argumentative teenage years, my mom is one of my best friends and the person I talk to most about my business. When I first talked about studying photography in college and becoming a professional photographer, she helped me pick the right school, encouraged me in my studies, listed to all my ideas and gave advice when needed. Even when I decided to take the leap of working for myself she never said "maybe you should get a real job" or anything like that, simply made sure I was doing something that would be sustainable as well as enriching. I could not have asked for better support. 

My Dad: While this is a post celebrating women, I think it important to note that having male advocates in your corner is also important. Feminism is NOT about hating men, after all. And my dad has always been one of my best advocates as my teacher, my coach and now my friend. Particularly as my coach, Dad never treated me differently (as either his child or as a girl) instead instilling in me an intense passion for hard work and helping others that I carry with me every day.

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My grandmothers: These are two of THE strongest women I know and that's saying a lot. MomMom is the perfect example of quiet strength and grace in the face of adversity and I've so rarely not seen a smile on her face. She's a no nonsense, get the job done kind of lady who will take crap from no one and I try to mirror her example as often as I can. Mopsie is the perfect example of nurturing friendliness, that you can still be nice to someone even if you don't agree with them, but that if you have something important to say that its important to share your opinion. She is one of the most "herself" people I know, authentic to the core, who has helped me to be comfortable being me. 

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My grandfathers: As above, I have to thank them for showing me that great men don't try to best women, they wholeheartedly support them. Just like my dad, they are fabulous examples of loving, strong and supportive husbands who are equal partners with their wives. 

Colleagues: Dang, I work with some amazing people. At UNCA, Janet Cone, Terri Brne and numerous professors helped me succeed professionally in a once male-dominated field. Murphy Funkhouser Capps of Kudzu Brands took a chance on a young photographer working with their branding team and has showed me that being a female CEO is not only possible but necessary. There are so many women in the wedding industry who have helped and supported me along the way to succeed in my own business that I wouldn't be where I am today without them. 

I know, I got long-winded after all. But, as you can see, this is something I'm very passionate about and I would not be in the same place personally and professionally had I not had so many great people in my corner. Now, the rain is finally slowing so I'll end my spiel and set off for the Japanese Gardens!